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RIM BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220

The BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220 (let's just call it the Flip for short), is the first clamshell device from RIM and it is not short on features. It goes without saying that it meets RIM's mobile email criteria, and it also packs GPS and Wi-Fi, which are two near necessities of the modern handheld/smartphone world.
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Written by Sandra Vogel, Contributing Writer on

The BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220 (let's just call it the Flip for short), is the first clamshell device from RIM and it is not short on features. It goes without saying that it meets RIM's mobile email criteria, and it also packs GPS and Wi-Fi, which are two near necessities of the modern handheld/smartphone world.

There is a 2-megapixel camera and the Flip has a 3.5mm headset connector. Added to this, it runs the new-look BlackBerry user interface which is so much more zingy than its predecessor was. Unfortunately it is not a 3G device, supporting quad-band GSM with GPRS and EDGE.

Inside the clam is a classic SureType style keyboard that is comparatively large. In fact sitting it beside my Vodafone BlackBerry Pearl 8110 the keys on the Flip look about twice the size. This doesn't make them twice as easy to use, though. I'm pretty adept at using the Pearl 8110's keys at a fair old lick and got up to a comparable speed with the Flip but couldn't beat it.

Unfortunately, the Flip is a bit of a monster in size terms. One of the main benefits of clamshell phones is that they are small, but that is not always the case and it isn’t here. When closed the Flip measures a respectable 100mm x 50mm x 17.5mm. But when opened it becomes 18cm tall which makes it feel like a bit of a monster when held to the ear.

To be honest, I’m not sure what to make of the Flip. I don't want to suggest for a moment that nobody will be interested in it, and it certainly packs in the features. RIM has obviously done its market research, and so has O2, the UK operator which has taken it on and is offering it from free on various tariffs. Both clearly feel it has a place in the market.

But it is quite obviously eclipsed by both the Bold and the Storm which seem to me to be much more compelling devices, the latter with its innovative fully depressing touch screen system and the former with its high resolution display and excellent miniature qwerty keyboard – one of the best I’ve ever used.

The Storm lacks Wi-Fi but it is taking all the attention at the moment just as RIM knew it would. Vodafone has the exclusive on the Storm, so for O2 to get the Flip is, I suppose, something of a consolation. But this handset just doesn’t do it for me, I am afraid.

I wonder if it will see a second iteration, or whether we'll be back to the candybar format for the next installment in the Pearl line.

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